NATO chief to make first visit to Ukraine next week

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will next week make his first visit to Ukraine, the alliance said Friday, as efforts to solve the conflict between pro-Russian rebels and government forces continue.


“NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, will travel to Lviv and Kiev on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 September 2015,” a statement said, indicating he would hold talks with President Petro Poroshenko.

Ukraine, where around 7,000 people have been killed in fighting since April 2014, is a key partner but not a member of the 28-nation military alliance.

He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the parliamentary speaker, and will attend a meeting of Ukraine´s National Security and Defence Council, it said.

NATO has responded sharply to the Ukraine crisis and Russia´s annexation of Crimea by increasing its readiness posture and rotating troops and equipment through its ex-communist eastern members to ease their fears that Moscow wants to reassert its hold over them.

Russia denies any direct role in a conflict which has plunged East-West relations into a deep freeze reminiscent of the Cold War.